International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association

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The Harmful Effects of Everyday Cleaners

07 Sep 2018 9:10 AM | Rosana Constantino

In today's world, we are constantly surrounded by toxic contaminants. The most dangerous are known as Volatile Organic Compounds and Persistent Organic Pollutants. The EPA reports that VOCs are emitted by a wide range of consumer and industrial products, among them, everyday cleaning products.

These everyday cleaners are meant to facilitate our lives, but are, in fact, harming us. Unfortunately, we the consumers are the reason they are being manufactured. Organic chemicals are inexpensive to produce and are very effective, something very appealing to the mass production process.

Please note that VOCs are not ingredients themselves, rather, they are gases that are constantly being released from organic chemicals used in the manufacturing process. EPA studies indicate that people who clean using products containing organic chemicals can expose themselves and others to high pollutant levels. Even after you're done cleaning, elevated concentrations can persist in the air for hours.

The novelty of POPs is that they are highly stable organic compounds often used as disinfectants. POPs are a real problem because they persist in the environment, accumulate in human and animal fatty tissues, and are toxic to most forms of life.

Most everyday cleaning products contain POPs as their main ingredient and are found in household insecticides and moth repellants. According to the EPA, nearly every person on earth can be shown to have detectable levels of POPs.

There are also variants such as Persistent, Bio-accumulative, and Toxic pollutants that pose a risk to humans and wildlife ecosystems that make them horribly destructive to our planet and our health.

Overexposure to VOCs can cause adverse health conditions such as coughing, fever, muscle aches, and allergies. High levels of VOCs and POPs have been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, and even death. The use of products that emit VOCs and POPs is also at least in part responsible for many conditions such as Sick Building Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and Asthma.

Why then are they still being manufactured and sold to the public? The truth is that there are few regulations of these chemicals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only tests prescription drugs and consumable products. The EPA only investigates after there have been many complaints reported. Basically, if a product ever gets to a point where it warrants an investigation, it's likely too late. Interestingly enough, the EPA already lists most VOCs and POPs as Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS), but unfortunately, chemical production continues largely unregulated.

To protect ourselves, we need to reduce or eliminate our exposure to these substances. Some of the most toxic are found in everyday products like all-purpose cleaners, oven cleaners, and fabric softeners.

These environmental poisons need to be replaced with non-toxic and environmentally safe counterparts, if not by the government, then by each and every one of us. For daily cleaning, baking soda and vinegar are wonderful natural alternatives that do a great job keeping things clean.

For an ongoing green solution, you can seek out a green cleaning service provider at www.ijcsa.org/Green-Cleaning-Services 


Sources:

VOC Information: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html

POP Information: http://www.epa.gov/international/toxics/pop.htm

PBT Information: http://www.epa.gov/pbt

Extremely Hazardous Substances: http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/baq/docs/ehsalpha.pdf

Effects of POPs: http://www.childenvironment.org/position.htm


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